Chemistry (SB)

at the Library

The Library and its services are at the disposal of EPFL students, teachers and researchers, as well as of the public with an interest in science and technology. Here we set out more specific information dedicated to chemists and chemical engineers :

  • Databases
  • Access to more than 1,700 journals in chemistry and chemical engineering
  • More than 20,000 printed and online books
  • Specialised training
  • Help and advice in relation to scientific publication
  • Searching for documents
  • etc.


The Library provides support to EPFL teaching, as well as specific training.

  • Teaching collection: several copies of the books recommended by the chemistry teachers are generally available, and if possible online. Do not hesitate to notify us of any omissions!
  • Intervening in an existing course: at the request of the teachers, we are happy to present 1 or 2-hour modules on searching for information, citation etc.
  • PhD course Information Literacy for Chemists: search for documentary and molecular information in conjunction with the thesis topic, current trends of scientific information in chemistry.
  • Complements the Scientific and Technical Information Literacy seminars: presentation module of databases essential for chemistry.

Help with publishing

The current concerns in scientific publication (Open Access, Research Data Management etc.) are of particular significance in chemistry, a field where questions of intellectual property can assume great importance.

  • Copyright: the policies of the publishers regarding archiving and dissemination of the publications are often complex, and some publishers in chemistry have very specific conditions (American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry). We are at your disposal for any questions on this topic.
  • Infoscience: your librarian provides support for this service, used by most ISIC laboratories to maintain their websites.

The chemistry collection of the EPFL Library comprises thousands of books (printed or electronic) and various other documents (theses, Master’s dissertations …).


Printed books on chemistry and chemical engineering are generally classified under the call numbers 540-549 and 660-669. The electronic collection is expanding, in particular with eBooks published by Wiley-VCH, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Springer. You can find these books through our BEAST search interface.


Encyclopaedias and other reference publications are useful for getting specific information or an overview of a particular subject without delay. In particular, EPFL has access to the following references online:

Chemistry has a number of specific databases, ranging from bibliographic information to the research of the structure or properties of compounds. We set out here a selection of these tools.

Commercial tools

The main tools of chemical research are accessible at EPFL (computer connected to the network of the school or VPN):

  • Scifinder: interface for the Chemical Abstracts and associated Chemical Abstracts Service databases. Before connecting for the first time, it is essential that you register on our registration page with an EPFL email address. The Terms of Use imposed by CAS are quite strict (User Agreement): access only by EPFL staff or students, only in the context of training or research work of a non-commercial nature etc.
  • Reaxys: Web interface for the Beilstein databases (organic chemistry), Gmelin (inorganic chemistry) and the Patent Chemistry Database of MDL.
  • Cambridge Structural Database: database of crystal structures containing carbon, the licence for which is managed by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Zurich for Swiss universities. Contact Michael Wörle to obtain access.

Free tools

There are also chemical search tools freely accessible online:

  • Chemspider: database of the Royal Society of Chemistry, integrating structures and other information on more than 30 million compounds from several hundreds of sources. The users can take part in the project and enhance the database or correct data.
  • PubChem: information about the molecules of biological interest up to 1000 atoms, managed by the American National Library of Medicine.

Patents are a key source of information in chemistry, given the numerous economic concerns in this field.

Patents differ from other types of documents (articles, books etc.) by the fact that the document itself is frequently available free of charge online, or at minimal cost. Therefore the EPFL Library does not have a proper collection of patents, as anyone can quite easily obtain a patent that is of interest, from the authorities in charge of intellectual property in the relevant country.

The Library can be of service to you at the level of searching for and identifying patents, essential before being able to obtain the document. There are various free or commercial search tools (see our page on patents), of which Scifinder is probably the most useful in chemistry. It effectively allows one to search for molecular structures (complete, partial or Markush – using generic functional groups -R, -X etc.). We are at your disposal for any questions in relation to these tools or in relation to the search for patents in general. However we would remind you that the Transfer Technology Office (TTO) is the competent authority at EPFL for legal and administrative queries in connection with patents.

Degree and Master’s dissertations of the Chemical and Chemical Engineering section are generally listed on Infoscience and stored under lock and key on the mobile shelves of the basement of the Library (area B5). Some dissertations remain confidential, for example in the case of an agreement with an industrial partner, and are therefore not in the database.

The indicated dissertations can be consulted on request (a maximum of 5 documents) in the EPFL Library. Send an email to [email protected], indicating: title, author and year..

A 6-hour course is available for PhD students in chemistry. It generally takes place from November to January. For a detailed description, please consult the course resumé.

New acquisitions

Electron Crystallography. Devinder Singh. IntechOpen, 2020. [Online]

2019 International Conference on Biotechnology and Bioengineering (9th ICBB): 25-28 September 2019, Poznan, Poland. Mingfu Gong; Antonio Trincone. AIP Publishing, 2020. [Online]

Free Radical Medicine and Biology. Kusal K. Das. IntechOpen, 2020. [Online]

See more in BEAST:

Alain Borel

Alain Borel

Specialist Librarian IT
RLC D1 220